Grimdark Magazine #18 by Adrian Collins

Grimdark Magazine #18 by Adrian Collins

Series: Grimdark Magazine #18Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: January 12th 2019Genre: fantasy, grimdark, dark fantasy
Publisher: Grimdark MagazineAvailable: Amazon, GdM website, Patreon
Number of pages: 111Author’s website:


Quote of the Book

“Mara growled. ‘Life is not a fucking bard’s tale. Other people are not merely actors in your personal power fantasy.'”

– Hatred for Heroes by Cameron Johnston



Grimdark Magazine presents the darker, grittier side of fantasy and science fiction. Each quarterly issue features established and new authors to take you through their hard-bitten worlds alongside articles, reviews and interviews. Our stories are grim, our worlds are dark and our morally grey protagonists and anti-heroes light the way with bloody stories of war, betrayal and action.

– Rage Wolf by Andy Remic
– The Hunger and the Lady by Peter McLean
– Hatred for Heroes by Cameron Johnston

– An Interview with Devin Madson by Tom Smith
– Building a Career with Small Presses by Alan Baxter
– Review: The Ingenious by Darius Hinks (Review by malrubius)
– An interview with Cameron Johnston by Tom Smith
– Scene and Summary: An Indispensable Internal Structure of Showing and Telling by Mike Myers


Personal notes

I’ve got a free review copy from Adrian Collins, chief editor of Grimdark Magazine because I’m cool and because… well, what other reason do you need? 😉 Joking aside, thanks for the opportunity Adrian!


Song of the Book

Well, okay, sue me, but I choose yet another Breaking Benjamin song for GdM. What can I say? If it fits…


The Eighteenth issue of Grimdark Magazine (GDM) features a nice selection of authors with stories or various articles. You can read a short stories from Peter McLean, Cameron Johnston and Andy Remic, an interview with Devin Madson and Cameron Jonhston, two book reviews about The Igenious by Darius Hinks, plus two articles from Alan Baxter about his experience with publishing, and Mike Myers giving some useful tips.

My review will mostly reflect on the short stories, but I highly recommend checking out the interviews and articles too because they give great insight into writing and publishing, and will let you get a peek into the masterminds behind some great books that hit the shelves last year.

Hunger and the Lady by Peter McLean – 5/5

I’ve heard quite a lot of praises for Peter McLean’s latest book, Priest of Bones, but I haven’t read anything from him yet. However, I was pretty much looking forward to read his GdM short story thanks to the hype. Now, I’m usually wary with hypes because I usually find myself disagreeing with the public. I still only have a short story to make my judgment on, but this time I might just have to bow my head before my fellow book bloggers.

As I understand it, Hunger and the Lady takes places before the events in Priest of Bones, and we indeed meet Tomas Piety. A city, Messia is in ruins thanks to a siege and people are dying either because of the war or hunger or diseases. The eleven year old Billy tries to keep his remaining family – his ma and little sister – alive by hunting for rats. The gods have left Messia to its fate. Or have they?

McLean paints a cold and brutal world where priests rule over the city, people demean themselves to survive no matter the price, kids have to grow up to soon and have to shoulder responsibilities too much for them. His writing style is simple but effective, though in some cases he repeats stuff unnecessarily in my opinion to drive the point home. Otherwise it totally sucked me in from the first sentence, and at some time I’ll probably give up sleeping just to be able to squeeze Priest of Bones into my schedule.


Hatred for Heroes by Cameron Johnston – 4/5

As with Peter McLean, this was my first meeting with Cameron Johnston’s work. I’m not sure if Hatred for Heroes has any connection to his previous book, The Traitor God (sorry). The main characters of this story is Mara, a maid in the palace, and King Cypher, the hero who brought peace to the kingdom by defeating the Dread Lord. But does the end justify the mean? I like the moral message of this story and that it puts heroism into a different light. Also it makes you ask the question: what makes a hero? Can you name yourself a hero when in real life you are a rigtheous asshole basking in your own glory?

It’s quite a short story so it was hard to connect with any of the characters, especially since one is a torturer – even if she has her own reasons – and the other one is a hero whose image is not really flattering if we see him from a different angle. Every story has two sides to it, who is to decide which side is right?

I liked the writing of this, the pictures were very… vivid in my mind’s eye. Probably wasn’t the best idea to read it during lunch. The personalities of the characters were very well portrayed given the space and the timeframe of the story.


Scene and Summary: An Indispensable Internal Structure of Showing and Telling by Mike Myers

Okay, so, this is not a short story, but I felt like I needed to mention it, because it’s awesome. Mike Myers gives some useful tips to authors how to structurize their books, how to use scenes and summaries, what the difference between showing and telling. And also has a good humor. Pro tip: never try to kill an editor 😉


Rage Wolf by Andy Remic – 3/5

I owe you another confession: I’ve never come across Andy Remic’s name before so I’m not familiar with his works. And based only on this short story I’m not sure if I’m interested to take a further look. The plot revolves around a character who might be known to those who are more familiar with Remic’s works. An ex-soldier, a hero about whom legends are told, who is alone but for the ghosts of his past. He is not exactly a friendly, outgoing person, and prefers to drink by himself and wish he could just go to sleep permanently.  Until his past storms through the door surrounded by the snow and pleads for his help, knowing the only thing that can make him care. The story lives no illusions that they like or trust each other based on, well, the fact Dek deflected more than one assassination. It’s a well built story, the tension is there and the twist at the ending is quite surprising. It also has some cool ideas like the Vampire-like creatures whom has clockwork machines inside them. Again, based on the added info, these elements can be found in previous books: Kell’s Legend, Soul Stealers, Vampire Warlords, The Iron Wolves, The White Towers, The Dragon Engine and Twilight of the Dragons.

While the story was fine, the writing just didn’t work for me. I think the poem was completely uneccesary, the sentences sometimes were too long, there were some repetitions and he just used too much adjectives, overexplaining everything. The less sometimes is more. I could have liked this story, but the way it was written, I was slightly bored, wishing instead of long description I could learn more about Dek and Sharala, the hate and tension between them, their history. We only get some hints, and we are told they hate each other, but no explanation why. It’s a shame, because this short story otherwise had some potential.